Gallery after the jump.
© Flying Lizard Motorsport | Bob Chapman
After a hard-fought race in today’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Flying Lizard No. 45 and No. 44 911 Porsche GT3 RSRs finished fourth and fifth in GT2. The No. 44 Porsche won the Michelin Green X Challenge for the GT entry operating at the highest efficiency with the lowest environmental impact, with the No. 45 finishing second.
At hour seven, the No. 45 of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Long and Marc Lieb was in P2 when the team’s hopes for a podium were dashed when a wheel came loose from the No. 17 Falken Porsche, impacting the No. 45 on the left rear, breaking the No. 45′s wheel and sending Bergmeister scrambling for the pits with no left rear tire. Unfortunately, the No. 45 had to sit in pit lane under yellow until the pits were open before the crew could work on the car, sending it several laps down. More positively, the No. 44 had a nearly problem-free race, moving up the field from an 11th place start to finish fifth.
In the No. 45, Joerg Bergmeister started on the pole, moving to P2 on the first lap as Wolf Henzler in the Falken No. 17 Porsche edged into the lead at the start. Joerg retook the lead 30 minutes later, with the No. 62 in P2, the No. 3 Corvette in P3 and the No. 4 Corvette in P4. An early pit stop under green by the No. 62 Ferrari and No. 92 BMW left the No. 45 and the two Corvettes jockeying for the lead.
The early pit stop worked in Risi and Rahal’s favor — when the rest of the GT2 field, including the No. 45, pitted under the first yellow shortly after the No. 92 and the No. 62 had pitted, both of those cars stayed out, securing their one/two positions with the No. 92 in the lead. Just after the yellow, the No. 62, in second, passed the No. 92 to take the lead. Coming off the first Lizard pit stop Patrick Long had to settle for fourth, then he passed the No. 3 Corvette to take third. An unscheduled pit stop by the No. 3 Corvette for a pit lane repair took some of the pressure off, but after the second round of GT2 pit stops Marc Lieb was now in P4, the No. 4 Corvette in P3, the No. 92 in P2 and the No. 62 in the lead — all four on the same lap. By this time, the No. 44 had moved to P10.
Now in fourth in the No. 45, Marc Lieb continued to put pressure on the No. 4 Corvette, but was unable to pass. He stayed close until the No. 4 pitted, a lap or so before Marc was scheduled to pit. At hour 3, an accident in pit lane between the No. 3 Corvette, which was just finishing his pit stop, and the No. 4 Corvette, which was coming in, resulted in damage to both cars, pushing the No. 4 back in the field and the No. 45 back into a solid third.
From hour three to six, the No. 62, No. 92 and No. 45 ran in the lead pack, with the No. 62 and No. 92 jockeying for the lead. Just past hour six, an early pit stop under green for the No. 92 put them a lap down when the rest of the GT2 field pitted immediately after under yellow. On its pit stop during the yellow, the No. 45 beat the No. 62 out to take the lead. The No. 62 was able to overtake in traffic back to the lead. Nearing hour seven, the No. 62 was in the lead, with the No. 45 in second, when the accident with the wheel sent the No. 45 back to fifth.
By hour eight, the No. 45 was in fifth and the No. 44 Porsche of Seth Neiman, Darren Law and Richard Leitz was running a clean race and had moved up to sixth. The GT2 lead pack had settled in with the No. 62 in the lead, and the No. 92 and No. 90 BMWs in P2 and P3. Over the next four hours, the two Lizard Porsches were able to gain back some laps under yellow, and move up one position, but were too far back to make any inroads on the lead trio. The No. 62 took the win, the No. 92 finished second and the No. 90 third.
Bergmeister commented on the race, ‘I should have played the lottery today: the chances of having a flying wheel hit me are probably less than winning the jackpot. It was very unfortunate, we were running a solid second, within a few seconds of the Ferrari, when it happened. But we finished the race with both cars in the top 5, and we have good points for the championship. We didn’t have quite the pace of the Ferrari and BMW but made up for it in pit stops — thanks to the crew and entire team.’ Patrick Long added, ‘We finished fourth here last year and it didn’t end up so bad for us. I would have liked to think we had a car that could have raced to the end for the podium, but there were certainly some guys who had an even rougher day than us. It’s about putting points on the board early in the season and getting into the swing — overall we’re happy with the result.’
Team principal and driver of the No. 44 Porsche Seth Neiman added ‘As always, Sebring was a grueling race. Thanks to the crew and drivers for putting it all on the line — we have to be satisfied with good points to start the season and we are now turning our attention to Long Beach.’ “